It is a pleasure to follow Lucy Powell and other colleagues who have made thoughtful contributions and to add my voice to this important debate. I disagree with the hon. Lady’s cake analogy, because funding is, of course, allocated on a per pupil basis. The more pupils a school has, the more funding it will receive.
“Stoke-on-Trent is leading the way in innovative practice…a city with so much to offer, but too many children and young people leave school on the back foot, and do not have the skills and tools required to access the opportunities on their doorstep.”
Those are not my words, but the words of the Secretary of State for Education in the delivery plan for the Stoke-on-Trent opportunity area, 2017 to 2020. He is right, and the work going on in the city is a welcome line of spending from his Department.
It is an important line of spending for a number of reasons. First, the opportunity area does much to leverage partnership funding, volunteering and expertise, both from national organisations and local stakeholders. Secondly, it embeds national policy in a particular local context or, seen another way, it embeds particular local priorities in the context of national policy. Thirdly, it enables workstreams locally that will be of national benefit by further raising the skills and productivity of a city that is on the up, with a resurgent ceramics industry and a wider creative and advanced manufacturing economy.